Posted on: 10 April 2015Share
Dental implants are one of the most natural-looking options for replacing missing teeth. Many people who have considered dental implants are not familiar with the procedure, and may be nervous about its safety. Here is a step-by-step explanation of dental implant procedure, including consultation, surgery, and maintenance, to help you become more comfortable with the process.
CT Scan for Bone Structure
Before you have your dental implant surgery, you will visit your doctor so that he can perform a CT scan on your jaw. The purpose of the CT scan is to analyze the underlying bone structure beneath your gums and determine if it is high and dense enough to support an implant. If he finds that you have significant bone loss in your jaw, he may schedule a bone graft operation first to create a strong foundation for the implant.
The doctor will use the results of the CT scan as well as an impression of your teeth to create a 3D model of the implant and its planned position in your jaw. This ensures that the implant looks and fits as naturally as possible, and eliminates the chance that the implant will have to be adjusted after installation.
Drilling, Installation, and Stitching
Once the doctor has evaluated your jawbone's bone structure and created a 3D model of the implant, you will be ready to visit an oral surgeon for the implant surgery. On the day of the surgery, the surgeon will first apply a local anesthetic in the gum where you are having the implant placed. He will then create a small incision in the gums where your tooth is missing so that a flap can be peeled back to access the jaw bone.
Once the bone is exposed, the dentist will use a series of drills increasing in size to create the hole that the implant will be placed in. Rest assured, the anesthetic is highly effective and the drilling will be completely painless. The surgeon will refer to the 3D model to place the implant correctly. Finally, when the implant is properly aligned and flush with the bone, the gums are folded over, trimmed to make space for the top of the implant, and stitched together to heal.
Crown and Abutment Placement
After the surgery to install the implant, your surgeon will schedule a second visit in a few weeks or months once you have had time to heal. During this time, the implant will undergo a process called osseointegration, fusing directly to the bone. Once the implant has osseointegrated, the surgeon can apply the crown without risk of damaging the jaw bone by wiggling the implant.
Before your new crown can be placed, an abutment must be screwed into the top of the implant. The abutment is a piece of metal that sticks up out of the gum and holds the crown in place. After the abutment is attached to the implant, the crown is set in place using dental cement.
Follow-Up and Implant Maintenance
After your crown has been placed, the surgeon may schedule an additional check-up with your dentist a few weeks later. This is to make sure that the crown is not loose or exerting excess pressure on the adjacent teeth that could cause damage.
Caring for your dental implant is identical to caring for your natural teeth. Continue to brush and floss each day, and visit your dentist for regular cleanings. Occasionally, the dentist may need to polish the crown of the implant to remove stains, as normal teeth whitening methods are not effective on porcelain crowns.
Dental implant surgery is a safe and effective process that has provided excellent results for many people. Be sure to talk with your dentist about dental implants to find out if they are the right tooth replacement option for you.